Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rock on Newman
Or would it be, "Rock on Newmans?" In a post that must surely have the right end of the loggiaheads spinning in their soup, Rock gives it up for Catholic campus ministry in its incarnation as Newman Centers. Much of the post is devoted to the booming campus ministry at Arizona State, so read the link for the happy story. I spent two years as a campus minister at Michigan State University in the 90's, so I grok what Rock says:
It's a symptom that speaks to the truth of a moment in which you'll find two prevalent schools of ad intra thought when it comes to Catholic outreach on college campuses: 1. cut their funding, or 2. rejigger their priorities and disproportionately upping the emphasis on priestly/religious vocations, whilst cutting their funding. This is an unwritten scandal of the current state of the church in this country.
Amen, brother. Without criticizing over much the effort to have altar server fun fests and dinner parties with the Serra Club, let me second Rock's criticism of diocesan funding priorities. The Golden Age (cue angel songs) of Catholicism was a time in which people made their life commitment in their teens. They prepared to take over the family farm or business. They met a nice Catholic girl or boy while dancing a heavyweight nun's width apart at the high school hop. Age twenty, kids popping out, and set for life. It made sense in those days to target adolescents or younger because those kids were coming to the sunset of their time to choose up sides in the race of life. Needless to say, we've all grown more immature with the passing decades. Some young folks don't leave parental pastures till thirtysomething or more. The great dating market is now in college, if not e-harmony. Even people with college degrees don't feel like they're locked in to a particular career. They might be downsized. Or they might find something more suitable. And I don't have to tell you that marriage stability is supposedly taking a beating, too. The point is that today's college is yesterday's junior high, vocationally speaking. If the bishops were smart, they'd devote more resources for college-age Catholics at non-Catholic schools. It only makes sense. That they don't leaves me to believe they're not yet totally full-press serious enough about repopulating the younger flanks of the priesthood and religious life. Lacking funding for college campus ministry, this is probably more about regenerating a past generation than actively engaging the times in which we live and casting into the true deep. Put it another way: my Jewish grandmother could drum up vocations at Catholic colleges today. It takes real talent and drive to reach out to the unchurched masses deep in the heart of secular universitania.

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